Draken Harald Hårfagre is in jeopardy of leaving the Tall Ships Challenge 2016 and the Great Lakes

Photo: Peder Jacobsson

Photo: Peder Jacobsson

Press release July 11, 2016

The Norwegian Viking Ship, Draken Harald Hårfagre, is most probably forced to leave the Great Lakes and the Tall Ships Challenge 2016 due to the cost for pilotage.

The world’s largest Viking ship, the sail training vessel Draken Harald Hårfagre, has sailed from Norway to Shetland, Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland to Newfoundland and into the St Lawrence Seaway and the Great Lakes. The ship was invited to participate in the Tall Ships Challenge Great Lakes 2016 and entered the waters of St Lawrence and the Great Lakes with information from the Great Lakes Pilotage Authorities that a ship of the size and variety of Draken Harald Hårfagre would be excepted the requirement of pilotage. “…Foreign ships of less than 35 meters in overall length are not subject to compulsory pilotage in the Great Lakes Region”

The expedition relied on the information from the Pilotage Authorities and the possibility not to be a subject to compulsory pilotage. Unfortunately the project learned, when entering the St Lawrence Seaway, that the ship is required a pilot at all times while at sea with no possibility of reduction in cost. The cost for the pilotage, if the ship were to participate in the schedule for Tall Ships Challenge Great Lakes 2016, is well over 400 000 USD.

-The fees are not within reason for a non profit sail training vessel, it blocks the opportunity for any foreign tall ship to enter the Great Lakes and visit the ports. We are a non profit project with the intention to spread knowledge about the Vikings seafaring and to inspire people to pursue dreams and look beyond the horizon, as modern Vikings, says Sigurd Aase, owner and curator of the project.

-We are required a pilot as soon as we leave the dock with the cost of 400 USD per hour, the rate as a commercial freight ship. It is very disappointing, the people in the harbors around the lakes are expecting us and we have been warmly welcomed in every port we have visited, it is a pity if we can not pursue this expedition, says Captain Björn Ahlander.

It is very unfortunate if Draken Harald Hårfagre is not able to continue the expedition to sail the waters where there is a such high interest, and presence of the cultural heritage from the Nordic countries. At present, the only solution for Draken Harald Hårfagre to stay in the Great Lakes is if the project somehow gets the cost for pilotage covered.

The plan for the next weeks, if no changes in funding appear in the next couple of days, is to leave the Great Lakes as soon as possible. Further information about Draken Harald Hårfagre will follow as soon as possible.

Press contact: Sarah Blank, +1 207 409 4162, sarah@drakenexpeditionamerica.com

Note: We want to point out that our project does not blame the pilots, we are aware of the need for pilots in the Great Lakes, it is the cost of the pilotage we can not bare.